FAQ Section - Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Paper Tole?
- Where can I find
Paper Tole Kits Especially for Beginners?
- How can I get started?
Do I need to go to a class?
- What special skills
do I need to do Paper Tole or 3d Decoupage?
- What tools and
supplies do I need to start with?
- I have decided
to try a Paper Tole project. How do I Order?
- Can I order knowing
that my credit card details are secure?
- I have decided
to order, how long does it take for me to receive my kits?
- What about your
prices?? How competitive are they? Am I getting a good deal?
- How Do I Know
if a kit I selected is easy or hard to do?
- How many prints
should I use for my project?
- I think I need
instructions, do your kits come with instructions?
- Okay, I have my
project in front of me, where do I start?
- Should I mount
the base print first?
- Are you sure I
can cut pieces out of the base print? What about the holes left
- How do I mount
the base print?......and on what?
- Do I have to spray
my base print with anything before I start?
- I have read elsewhere
I should straight cut, and not bevel cut? What is the correct
- Should I cut out
all the pieces at the start?
- I have decided
to cut everything at the start. How can I store these pieces
- What about coloring
the edges? Is it necessary to color the edges of the cutouts
and if so, with what?
- Woops! I accidentally
cut through a piece. Can I repair this cutout? How do I do it?
- What is shaping?
I read elsewhere all I have to do is stack one piece on the
- What tool should
I use to shape the pieces? What is the best Shaping Tool?
- When I shape some
pieces, the paper crinkles on the edges. How do I correct this?
- What type of glue
should I use?
- I read somewhere
that I should coat the back of my prints? Is this necessary?
- How much glue
should I use?
- I have a small
piece I wish to glue, how can I apply a small amount of glue
to the cutout?
- Woops!! I accidentally
smudged some silicone on my base print what can I do?
- Do I have to wait
until the glue sets on the first piece before I apply another
- I glued a piece
down, but dont like the way I shaped it, what can I do?
- I saw some paper
tole pictures that were built out a mile!! Is this correct?
My work looks flat compared to this??
- How long do I
have to wait for the glue to dry before I varnish?
- What about varnishing?
Do I cover everything with varnish?
- How many coats
of varnish should I use?
- How long should
I wait between coats?
- I have varnished
an area, and I do not think I like it, can I remove the varnish?
- Okay, everything
looks great, what options do I have regarding framing?
- I saw some budget
frames at the Warehouse, can I use these for my Paper Tole project?
- Everyone loves
my work, and I have been asked to Tole a Family Photograph.
Can I do this?
- I like your FAQ
section...How do I get you to impart more of your knowledge
Paper tole is a fun craft/art form which
transforms a 2 dimensional image (picture) into a 3d picture,
by selectively cutting, shaping, and gluing individual components
from copies of the original image. The result is a beautiful life
like creation that is your own work of art, as there are no two
finished paper tole projects that are identical. Paper Tole is
sometimes referred to as "Papertole", or "3d decoupage",
"papier tole", "3d art", or sometimes just
We have selected areas of our webstore
where you can find special starter kits, and paper tole kits that
have been individually selected just for beginners. The craft
is sometimes known as 3d decoupage overseas.
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The short answer is no, you do not need
to go to a class. Many people have started and gone on to be very
good in this craft without ever haven taken a class. Paper Tole
is a very easy craft to learn. The most important skills include
cutting, shaping, and gluing. You can quite easily start this
craft by purchasing a starter kit, and some easier projects, learning
as you go, and end up with some great results. Even some of the
more advanced techniques can be learned on your own accord with
appropriate resources, such as the furring and feathering books
we have in our webstore. We have included a 4 page written guide
in our starter kit to get you going off to a good start.
You need no special skills to start this
craft. As indicated above the most important area is your technique
in cutting, shaping, and gluing. These are techniques that are
learned by doing. There are advanced techniques that you can learn
to do special projects.
You can educate yourself using many of
the resources we have, and by reading about the craft, and looking
at other projects that have been completed by experienced tolers.
Our starter kits contain all the tools
you require to do this craft. Your tool kit will last you your
entire life. There are some consumable items such as blades, non-acetic
silicone that need to be topped up now and again, but your basic
tools should last you your life time. You can find all of the
extra materials you need in our paper crafts webstore.
To order, go through our online catalog
and make your selections. They will be highlighted on the right
hand side of your screen. Along with the individual prices, the
total of all your selections will be displayed as you are shopping
so you know at all times what and how much your selections total.
When you are finished shopping, simply submit your order and enter
in your details. The order will be transmitted using SSL secure
socket technology, which will absolutely protect all of your details.
As noted above, we use the Pixelnet eComm
Secure Server. This server is the latest SSL or secure socket
layer technology, and locks the socket in which you are submitting
your order. This means, that there is a secure line of communication
between your computer and the eComm server, away from all prying
It has been noted, that using this technology,
is safer than handing your card over to a shop assistant for processing
your order. As you submit your order, you will see a picture in
the bottom right hand corner of your browser bar, that looks like
a padlock. This means than your socket has been locked, and any
information that you enter, is entirely secure.
We use Air International Courier Post.
Typical delivery time to the US is approximately 5-7 days. Some
of our orders have reached our customers in the US within 4 days.
Delivery time to other parts of the world vary, but typical delivery
times to Australia is 2-4 days, and other parts of the world may
vary from 5-8 days.
Prices on our website are extremely competitive,
with average savings on all of our kits between 33%-45%. This
includes free delivery, and free cutting guides and instructions
with all kits. You can shop with confidence knowing you are getting
the best price on the internet for all of your Paper Tole Kits.
If you see an equivalent kit, that includes cutting guides and
free delivery elsewhere on the internet that is lower priced,
kindly inform us, and we will equal or better that price. You
can shop with confidence.
This is an excellent question for the new
crafter. Generally speaking, the less complicated image with fewer
elements, means that the project is easier to do. Also look for
larger elements in the picture which would indicate that the kit
would most likely suit a beginner. A kit that contains small intricate
pieces, such as some of the Anton Pieck 7x9 s and 9x12 s, would
better suit a person who has completed 5-7 projects.
We have a page that discusses this very
question. You can go here to view the contents of that page. Generally
speaking, most projects can be completed using 5 prints. Some
more complex kits require 6 or 7 prints, but rarely 8. Keep in
mind that our instructions have been designed, so that you maximize
the detail of your pictures, whilst keeping the number of prints
you use down. Using modern tole techniques, it is rare in a project
to use the same element more than 2 times in your picture. Stay
away from "stacking" the images one on top of the other,
and instead, carefully shape and sculpture your elements, which
adds realism to your project.
That is what makes us unique. All of our
kits we have in our online webstore come with cutting guides and
instructions. All elements of the project are shown and numbered.
The instructions are very detailed, ensuring that your finished
picture looks great. You assemble the cutouts in numerical order.
The instructions are suitable for all languages as they are graphically
First of all read the instructions carefully,
and get an overall view of how the project is put together. Number
your prints using a pencil, marking either on the back or near
the bottom of each print. This will assist you in following the
instructions. Make sure you have a sharp blade installed in your
knife, and make a few practice cuts to warm up.
Depending on the kit, read the instructions
to see if any pieces are extracted from the base print. If no
pieces are taken from the base print you can mount the base print
if you wish. It is a good idea to mount the base print on at least
a 2 ply acid free mat board if the print is larger than 8x10.
Smaller base prints can be mounted later if you wish.
In some of our kits, we have "stolen"
pieces from the base print to enhance the overall look of the
project. The holes that are left behind, are later covered as
the project is assembled. This is a common technique which is
used by all experienced paper tolers. You may find later on in
your project that perhaps you have made a mistake, and would otherwise
require additional prints to recover from your mistake. In this
case, if your base print has not been mounted, you can usually
"steal" pieces from the base print to make up for your
mistake, as long as you are covering the area where you extracted
the "stolen" pieces.
There are several techniques in mounting
your base print. Generally, you can mount the base print yourself
for images 8x10 or smaller. On larger base prints, it is advisable
for you to take the print down to your local framer and have it
vacuum mounted. This is not a costly exercise, and will ensure
that the base print is put down properly without bubbles or imperfections.
You should mount your base print on at least a 2-ply acid free
mat board. You can purchase this from your local framer, and it
is not expensive. Any color or offcut will fill the bill. Use
spray adhesive and spray the back of your print, as well as the
board you are mounting it on. This is called a permanent mount
and will not lift. If you choose to spray only one surface (i.e.
the back of the print, or the mat board) this is called a temporary
mount, and know that through time, this will lift.
Coating your prints prior to cutting, is
an option. By sealing your prints in this way, it assists in removing
silicone, or other debris that may adhere to your prints whilst
cutting and shaping. To protect your prints you can use a clear
matte spray sealer. As stated, this is an option, and if you are
careful in handling your prints, there is no real need to include
Beginners are usually taught to straight
cut. This means that the knife blade is perpendicular to the paper
when cutting. Ideally, you should develop the technique of bevel
cutting, by tilting your knife on an angle. This produces a thinner
exposed cut-edge which is easier to disguise and means that you
do not have to color the edges of your cutouts. If you straight
cut, then you are faced with coloring the edges of your cutouts
with a soft led pencil, or a special felt tip marker. It is best
that you learn correctly, as this will save you alot of time in
not having to color the edges. Very experienced paper tolers always
bevel cut. Adopting the correct cutting technique from the start,
ensures that you can develop your skills in this craft. Cutting
technique is a primary skill and separates a good toler from a
This really depends on how organized you
are. If you cut all the pieces, you may end up with 200 or more
pieces ready to assemble. This is overpowering for a beginner
unless you are very well organized. We have incorporated a handy
sticky album page which allows you to store your cutouts in numerical
order, until they are ready to be assembled. It is really a question
As indicated above, we have included in
your starter kit a very handy sticky album page that allows you
to store your cutouts in order.
As indicated above, if you cut properly
(bevel cut) there is not need to color the edges of the cutouts.
The reason some people color the edges is because they are not
cutting correctly and to make up for this, they are attempting
to disguise the edges. If you straight cut, then use either a
soft lead pencil, or use a special felt marker. The marker must
not be water based, as the ink will run, and penetrate the cutout
damaging the image itself. Prior to using a spirit based felt
marker, you should test the ink on part of a discarded piece of
scrap from the prints you are using.
This very often happens on smaller pieces,
either because the blade is dull, or because one has tried to
extract a piece without it being completely cut. It can also happen
because the piece is so small you have overcut. To repair the
piece, take both segments you wish to join, turn them over, align
them, and splice them with a piece of scotch tape. You can then
trim the excess tape around the edges. The piece is now joined
and ready to be shaped or glued.
Shaping is one of the primary skills besides
cutting and gluing in Paper Tole. Shaping or sculpturing your
cutouts really add realism to an otherwise lifeless 2 dimensional
picture. Never stack the cutouts with successive identical pieces,
as stacking implies, piling one flat piece on the other. Spend
some time on identifying the shape you wish to give an element
by studying the original picture to determine what shape it would
be in real life. Should it be convex or concave. Where are the
shadows on the piece?What does the leaf look like in real life.
What type of shadow do I wish to create on my overall project?
These are some of the many aspects you should take into consideration,
but shaping and sculpturing is really what Paper Tole is all about.
The primary aim is to stretch the paper, and to do so requires
that you apply a great deal of force to the shaping tool, instead
of just lightly "massaging" the paper.
From our experience, the Nylon Paper Shaper
which we carry in our online store is a fabulous shaping tool
for many reasons. First, unlike other copycat types which have
mimicked its great profile, it is made from nylon, and not plastic.
Being made from nylon has two distinct advantages. Firstly, it
will not snap or break when you are applying pressure to the finer
end. Secondly, it glides over the paper as if it were lubricated,
making shaping a breeze. Similar plastic type tools do not move
over the paper as nicely.
This very often happens on small round
cutouts. If you wish to create a concave shape, start from the
center of the cutout and slowly work outwards. Work on a very
firm surface which does not have much give. Some of the shaping
pads sold are too soft. We use a high density shaping mat which
provides extra resistance. You may also like to try using an old
piece of vinyl flooring with a foam back. This is ideal for shaping
pieces that require a high degree of pressure on the tip of your
shaping tool. If you wish to remove the crinkles that have formed,
use a denser pad, and rework the edges with a lot of pressure
on the tool. This will eliminate the crinkle look.
You should only use non-acetic silicone.
You can tell the difference between acetic and non-acetic silicone
by its smell. The former generally has a vinegar type odor. Acetic
silicone is used for glazing windows, or plumbing where it is
desirable to get a good bond. This is achieved by the release
of an acid that attacks the surface to roughen it up (etches the
surface) so the silicone can bond properly. This is highly undesirable
in Paper Tole. Imagine, you have done everything correctly, including
mounting your print on an "acid free" mat board, and
the next thing you are doing is destroying the long term survivability
by using an acid based silicone. Does this sound logical? You
will note that all museums use acid free components when they
are mounting lithographs. This is called a museum mount, and ensures
that the art will last for generations. This is exactly which
you wish to achieve, and can achieve if you use the right components.
This is definitely an optional move. Some
people varnish or coat the backs of the prints to protect the
image, so silicone will not migrate from the back to the front.
This is true in two cases. When the print is so thin such migration
is inevitable, or if they use acetic based silicone. Both instances
above can be avoided by proper print selection and the non use
of acetic silicone. All of our prints used in our kits are specifically
made for Paper Tole, so the scenarios above do not apply.
The third reason some people coat the back
of their prints, is to stiffen them so they can assume and hold
a particular shape. This is particularly true in some feathering
projects where long elongated pieces are used. Again, it is really
a personal choice thing, but what can be said, is if you properly
glue, then such stiffening is usually not necessary. It really
is a matter of personal choice. You can use our varnish to accomplish
this if you choose to do this.
A general rule of thumb is a dab every
time the piece is the size of a quarter or 25 cent piece. As to
the height you wish to achieve with the piece, this is strictly
a personal choice. There is a technique in actually creating this
"ice cream" effect when you squeeze the silicone out
of the tube. Place the nozzle over the area you wish to apply
the silicone and squeeze some out. As it is coming out, gently
pull back slightly allowing a greater height to be formed. When
you have achieved the height you want, hold the nozzle in position
for a few seconds, and then quickly flick your wrist. This will
result in a small tail being formed, hence it is sometimes called
an "ice cream effect" or blob which some people call
it. The silicone will retain its height integrity, and when you
apply the cutout over the column of silicone, you can adjust the
height by gently pressing down on the piece.
There are several ways you can do this,
but we generally use a toothpick. Squeeze a small amount of silicone
onto a waste piece of paper. Use this as your resource and dip
your toothpick into it to get a small amount on the end of the
toothpick. You can then apply this to the back of the cutout.
Once the glue is on the cutout, it can be placed either by using
tweezers, or alternately, you can use the end of your knife. To
use the knife technique, touch the blade against the area where
you have applied the silicone. The cutout should adhere to the
knife blade, and you can gently place the cutout in the correct
area. Practice this a few times on a piece of scrap.
When working with silicone, it is important
that you manage it correctly at all times, as things can rapidly
get out of control. Have a Kleenex handy at all times, and keep
the area in which you are working clean. Keep the cap on the silicone
when not in use. If you do manage to get a spot on your base print,
there is a product that is specifically designed to remove silicone.
You can purchase it from your local craft store. Keep in mind,
a smear of silicone on your base print which is visible, will
virtually, visually destroy your project.
Silicone can take upwards of 5-7 minutes
to skim over, and several hours to actually set correctly. You
do not need to wait this time to continue to build. Once a piece
is placed, there is no reason why you can not continue with your
project, as long as you are careful not to dislodge what you have
glued. Silicone has enough body to hold your pieces in place as
long as they are not displaced. Just be careful.
If you want to remove a piece that has
been glued there are two considerations. If if has recently been
placed then removing it is no problem. Carefully clean off the
back of the cutout, and reshape. If the glue has set, then you
can easily cut off the piece by sliding your knife under the piece
and cutting if off. Alternately you can snip it off with a pair
of scissors. Scrape the dry silicone off the back, reshape and
re-glue. No need for an extra print here folks!!
This is really a hot topic among beginners.
When you start this craft, there is a tendency to be much too
conservative, as to how much you build your picture out. I always
tell people to "go for it" and be radical. Through time,
you will develop your own style. I have seen some great pieces
that have adopted the conservative approach, and some fantastic
finished tole, where the creator has been radical. The nice aspect
of this craft, is that there is no real right or wrong way. It
is a fun individual craft. You will find what is right for you,
but it actually helps you to experiment.
This really depends on the climatic conditions
in your local area and the type of varnish you are using. The
rule of thumb is that you should wait at least 24 hours. This
however is not attainable when working in a teaching situation,
where students want to finish their project during the course
of the class. In that case, you should wait at least half an hour,
and be very careful that you do not dislodge things. Try to wait
24 hours between coats of varnish, and use the correct varnish
otherwise, you finish will go yellow. Keep in mind that there
are different forces at play as the glue is drying and the varnish
layers are drying. This is what generally causes cracking with
two or three different layers drying at the same time with their
own dynamic stresses being created.
Beginners like to cover everything with
a glaze for some reason. As to what areas you glaze is another
personal choice. Just a few hints here. Look critically at the
picture, and visualize what would naturally appear shiny, or naturally
reflect light. This is really the key. Some people use no varnish,
which retains the mat look, particularly with Anton Pieck prints.
Other people selectively glaze areas which enhances the overall
project in a delicate way, and heightens the 3d effect. Personally,
I treat each project differently. Some I selectively glaze, others
have no finish whatsoever.
This really depends on the effect you wish
to achieve. Keep in mind the first coat of glaze generally is
absorbed by the paper and really is the "keying coat".
The first coat when dried will have a dull appearance. Subsequent
coats will liven the surface up. With a water based varnish, generally
3 or 4 coats are needed to achieve a glossy finish. With a lacquer,
3 coats are generally sufficient.
This depends on local climatic conditions.
In the summer, where the ambient temperature is warm, 24 hours
between coats is sufficient. In the winter, where the temperature
is lower, and the humidity is still high, you should wait at least
3 days. I know this sounds long, but ask your husband or partner
how many times they have applied a varnish type finish and re-coated
too soon only to find out the paint surface has gone opaque.
The best thing to do in this case is to
cut the piece off and replace it with a new piece.
I would hate to count the number of "finished"
pieces of tole that lay in peoples drawers unframed and unfinished.
On some of your first finished pieces, you may not want to spend
a lot on framing if you consider them learning projects. Framing
does not have to be expensive, and there are alternatives to framing.
You can mount your base print on a block of wood whose edges have
been routered, and affix a holder to this plaque. This is a low
cost method to ensure your work can be displayed. Alternately,
you can buy an inexpensive frame, and frame it yourself. If your
finished piece is your dream project, then it is worth spending
the money on getting proper mats cut, and having it framed professionally.
Most definitely. Even if the frame does
not have a deep rebate, to keep the elements from contacting the
glass, you can use an inexpensive frame, and simply build the
back out. This is accomplished by using strips of foam core which
are approx. 10mm thick and to whatever width you want to cut them.
You form a box with the strips of foam core, and insert them into
the back of the frame. By gluing and creating this box. you actually
extend the picture out the back of the frame, and create space
so your tole can be inserted. By proper taping, it is not noticeable,
and you can accomplish with a $3.00 frame, what would have normally
been much more expensive using conventional deep rebated framing.
Photographs are extremely hard to tole
in the sense, that the image lines are not clear and concise and
have an extended depth of field introducing elements that are
almost impossible to tole. If you are in the position to actually
compose the picture yourself, then consider the following. Try
to use a short depth of field so elements in the background are
not in focus. This eliminates the requirement that you have to
tole them, and instead you can focus your efforts on the main
subjects. Photographs are very difficult to tole and to make really
Well you made it to the last section, and
if you think this has been worthwhile, drop us a line of encouragement
either with specific questions you would like us to cover, or
just a few lines saying you gained some positive information,
and with enough encouragement *smile* I am sure we would add to
Paper Tole History >
Copyright © 2004 Paper Tole Kits.com . All rights reserved.
Revised: January, 2003
Paper Tole and 3D Decoupage Paper Crafts